La Piola

Piazza Risorgimento, 4

Alba, Italy

Tel. +39 0173 442800


Fried zucchini blossoms; tomato sauce

Red pepper agnolotti; tuna, anchovy sauce


NV (2010)   Bérèche et Fils Les Beaux Regards    


2008   Giovanni Rosso Barolo Cerretta


This fabulous lunch at La Piola was a refreshing break from a full day of tastings. The Ceretto family operates two restaurants in Alba, both in essentially the same space. Located on the ground level of a historic building in the old city center, La Piola specializes in mostly traditional dishes served in an informal setting. Piazza Duomo occupies the upstairs level and is the showcase for Enrico Crippa’s innovative, award winning cuisine.

Fried zucchini blossoms; tomato sauce

The menu at La Piola is rich in the classics, but with some twists that are quite welcome for visitors who want a break from Piedmont’s typical fare. Ceretto wines are featured heavily, with the rest of the list coming from Ceretto’s retail online wine partner. While the strategy of this kind of vertical integration is appealing from a financial perspective, the reality is that the list at La Piola lacks imagination. Given the high quality of the food, La Piola would be far better off showcasing the best wines of the region, but that does not appear to be the aim. Regardless, diners can order from Piazza Duomo’s comprehensive wine list, which is what I suggest. Service on the day I visited was exceptional and welcoming, something that is not always the case in Piedmont.

Red pepper agnolotti; tuna, anchovy sauce

The fried zucchini flowers are fabulous and a perfect way to start this lunch. Alba boasts a fabulous vegetable market that is one of Italy’s best. When zucchini flowers are available, I never miss them. Red peppers stuffed with tuna and anchovies are a staple of the Piedmontese kitchen. At La Piola, the traditional agnolotti are the vehicle for expressing those super-classic flavors in a more modern, deconstructed style. My agnolotti are perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor. In a word: superb.

Bérèche’s NV (2010) Les Beaux Regards

I have long been a fan of Bérèche. These gorgeous, artisan Champagnes are very hard to find in the US, so I rarely pass up a chance to drink them when I am in Europe. The NV (2010) Beaux Regards, 100% Chardonnay, bristles with energy, tension and varietal nuance. Gorgeous on its own, it is even better with our food, as the bright, chiseled acidity cuts through the richness of the flavors. Davide Rosso’s 2008 Barolo Cerretta comes across as wilted and lacking depth, both telltale signs of a wine that has not been stored properly at some point during its life.

Readers spending time in Alba should give La Piola a try. While a bit more expensive than most restaurants in its category, La Piola is terrific and well worth a visit.

-- Antonio Galloni